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Asian flavour to Perth’s best hotels

PERTH’S attractiveness to tourists, particularly from Asia, has sparked renewed interest from big business in the region, with all of Perth’s major hotels now being owned by foreign interests.

The city’s seven landmark four-star and five-star hotels – the Hyatt, Parmelia Hilton, Sheraton, Duxton, Burswood Resort, Rendezvous and Rydges – are owned by Japanese, Malaysians, Indonesians and Singaporeans.

In the not-so-distant past, big hotels were major playthings of entrepreneurs including Robert Holmes a Court, Alan Bond, Lord Alistair McAlpine and Stan Perron.

Of 20 hotels researched, only four are locally owned.

Detailed analysis by leading property publisher Cityscope shows the hotels’ new owners haven’t been idle, however, with hundreds of millions of dollars ploughed in to refurbishment.

“We aren’t concerned about foreign investment,” Australian Hotels Association WA executive director Bradley Woods said.

“Not when it leads to local jobs in hotels and associated industries.”

He said the hotels were managed by Australians with headquarters in Australia.

Hotel ownership

The 367-room Hyatt Regency is ultimately controlled by Indonesian industrialist Sjamsul Nursalim and family.

They are the biggest shareholders in Singapore-based company Tuan Sing Holdings, controller of the Grand Hotel Group.

The Hyatt was owned by a Stan Perron local firm in 1985 but sold in 1988 for $96 million to Japanese interests.

It was sold to its present owners for $98 million in 1996. (In 1990, the Hyatt’s then Japanese owners rejected a $130 million offer).

An $8 million refurbishment in 1990 was followed by an upgrade of 90 rooms.

The 273-room Parmelia Hilton is owned by Malaysian interests connected with Chiu Chi Wen and family.

The ultimate holding company is Kidston Investments of Liberia. Alan Bond sold the site in 1964 for $77,000 to Lord Alistair McAlpine, who developed the hotel and sold it in 1986 for $31.5 million to Bell Group.

It was bought by its present owners in 1993 for $28 million.

The 306-room Duxton Hotel is owned by Indonesia’s Salim family.

Perth directors include Pieter and Hobart Salim of City Beach.

The company is connected with Singapore-listed construction and hotel management group Low Keng Huat.

The Duxton, bought for $8 million in 1994, was converted from tax offices in 1996 for $62 million.

The 249-room Rydges Perth Hotel is owned by Hong Kong-based Glory Business and directed by Andrew Tse and Cheyenne Chan.

Bought by Hooker Projects for $8.6 million in 1987, it was sold to a Hong Kong firm in 1989 for $20 million and then sold to Glory Business in 1996 for $7.5 million.

Rydges was turned from offices into a hotel in 1996 after a $22 million overhaul.

The 388-room Sheraton Perth Hotel is owned by Singaporean interests connected with Hotel Plaza Ltd and United Overseas Bank. It was built by a Perth consortium in 1973 for $8 million.

Japanese firm Sumitomo Life took a financial bath after paying National Mutual $50 million for it in 1989.

Sumitomo sold it to its present owners for $36 million in 1995.

The 413-room Burswood Resort Hotel, opened in 1987, was immediately sold to present owner, Japanese guru Teibu Ogino of the Victoria Co of Japan for $110 million.

Nearly $15 million was spent refurbishing 374 rooms in 1999 and a further $5 million improvement is under way.

Local directors of the casino-hotel complex include millionaire businessman Bill Wyllie, who has been boosting his shares of late.

A new 300-room Burswood hotel is on the drawing board.

The 333-room Rendezvous Observation City Hotel is owned by Singaporean interests connected with Singaporean Straits Trading Group.

Directors are Norman Ip and Victoria Tse of Singapore, who bought the Alan Bond-inspired Scarborough hotel in 1994 for $44 million.

Improvements include $16 million spent in 1997 and last year’s $1.5 million bar complex upgrade.

A peek into other Perth hotels reveals the following.

p Holiday Inn is controlled by UK’s Bass company.

p Hotel Ibis is controlled by a Belgian company, a subsidiary of a French firm.

p Miss Maud European Hotel is owned by Japanese interests with some shares held by Perth’s Ken and Maud Edmiston.

p New Esplanade Hotel is owned by 18 Australian and overseas institutions.

p Melbourne Hotel is locally owned (Andrew Hewitt, Mark Hohnen, Maurice Owen, Kiong Hong Wong and Kee Fong Han).

p Grand Chancellor Hotel is Singaporean controlled.

p Grosvenor Hotel is owned by a company directed by businessmen from Brunei, Malaysia and Perth.

p Carlton Hotel is owned and directed by a Singaporean businessmen and his Singaporean-born Perth partner.

p Perth Ambassador Hotel is owned by a Singaporean company.

p Chateau Commodore Hotel is locally-owned.

p Hotel Chifley is owned by largely local investors.

p Terrace Hotel is owned by local investors.

p Mercure Hotel’s ownership is dominated by a Belgian company.

Source: Cityscope Publications

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